Eilot’s desert nightlife

Experience the Arava in the cooler hours.

The Samar sand dunes 521 (photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
The Samar sand dunes 521
(photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
The Eilot region in the southern Arava begins as you leave the city of Eilat. For most vacationers, Eilat is the target destination when driving south to the tip of the country. However, there is much to do outside that city, even in the hot summer and without dipping into the Red Sea.
The Eilot region has lately been promoting the idea of concentrating a multitude of activities into the desert’s magic hours – the late afternoon, night and early morning hours, which are the most pleasant to spend outside during the season of extreme heat. Travelers can spend a day or two in the region before or after their visit to Eilat. After all, it is only a 20- to 40-kilometer drive from the city.
In the summer, the magic hours start around 5:30 p.m. The sun is low, gradually painting the desert with warm oranges and reds. The temperatures descend and the air becomes increasingly pleasant as the evening goes on.
A good place to visit is the Samar sand dunes. Here in the open with the evening breeze, you can fly a kite in the blue sky, run on the warm sand and roll down the beautiful dunes. This is a perfect activity for families with young children. You can enjoy the fun until dark, then drive back to spend the night in Kibbutz Elifaz, which offers a lovely bed-and-breakfast with countrystyle rooms.
If you wisely choose to stay in the area overnight, you will also have time to experience Timna Park in the darkness. Here, you can explore one of the world’s oldest copper mines and the magnificent sights of the ancient desert. Also at Timna Park, one can view the Perseid meteor shower, which will occur this year on the night of August 12. During the planned event at the park, you will be able to watch the magnificent meteors flashing down and burning through our atmosphere. The conditions will be perfect that night because there will be no moon, and with other lights scarce in the heart of the park, the dark will be ideal for the extraterrestrial natural light show. Guiding the activity will be a team of experts from astronomy group Haduba Hagedola (Ursa Major, or the Great Bear), who will be equipped with high-powered telescopes and a lot of knowledge to share with the crowds.
Another interesting place to visit is the cowshed and dairy at Kibbutz Yotvata. Here, you can witness the whole process of how the kibbutz makes its signature chocolate milk – a fabulous cold drink that suits any time of the day in the Arava, or elsewhere for that matter. You can also watch the nighttime milking of the cows, and follow all the steps it takes for the milk to make it into the bottles. There is a visitors’ section in the dairy that allows you to see, through windows, all the machines and robots in action.
In the nearby Hai Bar nature reserve, there is also after-dark activity. It is in these hours that many animals start to move, after their long spell of resting and hiding from the hot sun. They wake up, and of course are ready to eat – which is exactly what you are going to watch if you arrive at the reserve in time for the predator-feeding guided tour. Wolves, tigers, foxes and hyenas will show themselves right in front of you, accompanied by explanations and stories from the Hai Bar guides.
These magical moments after dark will give you a taste of both ancient and modern life in the desert. Who says the only place for nightlife in Israel is Tel Aviv?